Thursday, January 17, 2013

Things You Can Do On Mass. Ave. In Your Nightie

Hey, how 'bout that sunrise this morning, hmm? What, you missed it? No worries, I got a good long look, I can tell you all about it.

Let's go back in time, shall we?

First we'll go way back, 12 years ago, when I bought a shiny newish Honda Civic, only three years old, with exactly 30,000 miles on it. To me this was a brand-new car, and I love love loved it for more than a decade.

Flash-forward to a few weeks ago, when said shiny vehicle began making its umpteenth kathumpa-kathumpa-kathumpa sound, and I said to Husband, "I'm due for an inspection, I don't even think I'm going to pass, I think it's time for a new car." He agreed. $u$an, our wise financial guru, talked to me about various (dreadful) financing options, and I began girding my loins for the distressing process of visiting car dealers and putting my feet in their stirrups.

Yesterday afternoon, I noticed that my right front tire seemed much lower than usual, so I asked the nice man at the corner gas station to show me how to put air in it. I apologized for being a dizzy girl who lacks this basic life skill, but he was very courtly and said, "We are always here and so happy to help you," which was very kind; I felt downright dainty and well-cared for.

Last night I headed out to zumba, but decided to look at my tire first. It was noticeably flatter. Clearly I have a leak. But it snowed in Boston yesterday; my driveway was pitch dark and slippery and lined with snowbanks; it did not feel like the optimal time to go messing with that tire-fixey spray stuff (do you know what I'm talking about? Mrs. Fog Dog told me about it and ordered me to get some; she is very bossy with me. And in my memory, I rushed out and bought two cans of it. Remember this, as it will be significant later). Note: Husband wasn't home, I had no alternate vehicle. Clearly I should not drive on the flattish tire. Clearly I should skip zumba and fix my car in the morning. Right?

Um, no. I made a different decision. Since the car will be out of my life soon ("soon," yeah, hear that? That's positive thinking), and I believed that I'd been driving on a flattish tire for a week or so anyway, I decided to do the 15-minute drive to Belmont, driving slowly (hush, Brunie), and avoiding potholes. Which I did, and all seemed to be well. Wellish. Semi-well. Whatever. I made it there and back and the tire didn't explode, I'm calling this one a win.

Then dawned the morrow. Mimosa and I had to be up at dawn to get her to choir practice. She has to be in her seat and ready to sing at the stroke of 7 a.m., and even though the high school is only a 10-minute drive away, you have to factor in time to scrape off your car (it's a New England winter and no one in these parts has a garage. Even people who have garages don't park their cars in them. Do not ask me why, it's just part of our culture. My California parents are simply gobsmacked by us), which I did not do last time and delivered poor daughter five minutes late. Her teacher, who is magnificent in many ways but is also a diva and a tyrant, called her out in front of the whole class and said that if she were late again, she would be punished. (Mimosa just told me this today; I'm going to sit with it for a while, rather than rush directly to the school and egg the Diva Tyrant's car. Maybe tomorrow.)

So there we were, scraping my ice-encrusted car at 6:45, and I remembered to check out the tire.


Oh, my.

Flat as the proverbial pancake. Not low, not lowish. Flat. Utterly devoid of air. We're talking the Florida skyline here, people.*

But what could I do? We'd already scraped my car, we had to leave then to get there on time. (Husband's car, while present, was unscraped and encased in ice.) So I made Possibly Bad Decision #2 and drove my daughter to choir practice. We arrived at 6:58, other girls were being dropped off at the same time, if the Diva Tyrant says a single word I will do more than egg her car.

My tire was clearly in serious trouble at this point; pedestrians were stopping to stare. Smoke was rising. Terrible floppy sounds abounded. I limped my way to the service station just up the road and parked by their air-dispenser thingy.

Perhaps I should now further set the scene for you: When I rise at dawn to take Mimosa to choir practice, I do little to prettify myself beyond brushing my teeth. I was in my nightie. I wore no make-up. I had not brushed my hair. Underclothing was conspicuously absent. I had on a nightie, coat, and snow boots, and that's it.

I got out of the car and headed to my tire with great optimism, ready to fill it with air, then the tire-fixey spray stuff — and then, take on the world! Or something like that.


Oh, my.

My tire was no longer recognizable as a tire. Instead, it looked like a large piece of rubber lace.

There would be no air added today.

And I checked my trunk for the tire-fixey spray stuff, the two cans I was sure I'd purchased . . . and they were not there. Oil and windshield cleaning fluid, yes. Jumper cables, yes. Bungee cords, an auto repair kit (another gift from Mrs. Fog Dog, she worries so about my safety on the road in the mean streets of Massachusetts), and a knitted afghan (in case I'm stuck somewhere cold waiting for Triple A), yes. No tire-fixey spray. (I think I gave it to Husband, actually.)

Anyway. The nice guy behind the counter allowed me to leave my car and said the mechanic would call me when he arrived at 8 a.m. And then I called Husband and stood on Mass. Ave., Greater Boston's main thoroughfare, in my nightie and bare face and underdressed nether regions, nothing to read, no coffee. Instead, I grew very Zen and gazed at the sunrise (lovely, all pink and purple and glowing gold around the edges) — and waited. I knew it would be awhile because, remember? Husband had to scrape off his car.
 And at this point I simply had to laugh because, really, what else was there to do? Except sing, which I also did:

Got no checkbooks, got no banks,
Still I'd like to express my thanks.
I've got the sun in the mornin' and the moon at night.

(KT, Inspirational Kathy, wouldn't you?)
All will be well. The mechanic took care of my tire and also did my inspection, which apparently I passed with ease. Husband dropped me off on his way to work, and I brought lots of things to read. It cost less than $150, and I've got another chore, January's car inspection, off my plate. And I was home by 9:30, where a pot of hot fresh coffee waited for me. I promptly grabbed my battered paperback of Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones and put it in my purse; I will never be caught without an emergency book again. And yes, I still need to think seriously about getting a new car, but I will take "seriously" over "urgently" any day.

And with the sun in the mornin'
And the moon in the evenin'
I'm all right.
I'm doing all right.

Life is sweet.

Love and kisses,
Lady C

* Today's fun fact: Of the 50 U.S. states, Florida, Louisiana, and Illinois are the flattest. I would've guessed Kansas.

I would've been wrong.


  1. You would have been wrong, indeed! I'm from Illinois, originally - the flattest of the flat states!

    I'm so sorry about all of your car ordeals! They sound awful! And to be caught without a book?!
    ...have you heard of Angry Birds? It's wildly diverting.

    But I'm glad that you killed two birds with one stone and got the tire fixed. I hope it gives you no more problems ever again! (I can be wishful too!)

    1. Hee! I'm the only Chardonnay whose phone is only a phone. I'm trying to avoid Angry Birds and Words With Friends and all these other enticing things I hear of, because I fear the giant time-suck black hole I will fall into... (because I know they will be awesome, and I am very, very weak)

      Have a lovely weekend, dear Kate!

  2. Good Neighbor AnneJanuary 17, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Lady C!!!
    When this happens, call me!!!
    I was driving Angel Child to the high school at these exact moments!

    1. Oh, how funny -- I did glance over at your house when Husband picked me up, thinking I'd beg you for a ride back, but your car wasn't there. But in the adrenaline-pounding oh-no-what-now moment, I had not a coherent thought in my head.

      Thank you for reminding me that you are there!


  3. Good Neighbor AnneJanuary 17, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    Oh, and so, yes, I too enjoyed the lovely sunrise! :)

    1. I thought of you as a I gazed at it, expecting you were taking a brisk run somewhere and enjoying its wonders in a much healthier way. In your own new beautiful car. I admit to a pang of envy or two. Or seventeen. :)

  4. OPL from sunny-in-the-morning-and-frosty-at-night California, where MY car is neatly parked in the garage. OPL is Lady V-speak for Outright Prolonged Laughter, which is what this episode caused.

    I cannot believe, as in CAN-not buh-LIEVE, you drive in a nightgown. REALLY? You have lived on the east coast far too long. We west coasters would NEVER do something like this. Your poor brain is addled. Ma chere: come home. All is forgiven. We will walk together, and zumba together, and not drink together, and you will park your car in the garage and life will be sweet indeed, except the guys at the gas station seem to think it's okay to insult dizzy dames such as we for not knowing how to air out the tires. Never mind. Maria, my mechanic, will teach us, and then we can all go into her waiting room and have a musical jam session on all the instruments she keeps there because doesn't every mechanic play in a bluegrass band after the shop closes?

    But I digress. Well, you do too.

    May I recommend a Prius? Although my car prior to the Prius (note nice alliteration) was a Honda and a more sensational car has never existed.

    Could you perhaps exist on a higher literary plane than Mr and Mrs Bo Jo Jones? It's not that I haven't read it -- I went through that phase -- but really.

    I leave you with this thought

    If there ever comes a time when you must choose between underwear and mascara, choose the mascara.

    1. I'm glad I made you laugh, silly girl.

      You returned the favor, with your assertion that California life is more -- what would be the word? -- refined? proper? than New England. Yes, I'm sure that is most people's experience. (Hee! Not.) In California, I peeled off all my clothes after a night of hot sweaty club-dancing and drove home in my bra and half-slip. In California, I nervously hovered in an illegal parking spot, waiting for Lady Darcy to hurry up and finish her job at the Boardwalk, and my need to void grew so great I had to use the giant plastic mug that formerly contained my beer. Yes, while still in the driver's seat. (And the giantness of the mug, reflecting the volume of its previous contents, was perhaps the reason for both my urgent need to void and my questionable judgment, but that is a different story.)

      So maybe it's just me, then, no matter where I live!

      And I'm reading Anna Karenina, bee-yotch! (which I say with love) Bo Jo will be great for those times when my concentration is not fully present, and it's small and battered, making it a perfect purse book -- neither of which, alas, can be said about Anna K.

      But thanks for writing to lecture me, mama. I am basking in the wonder of your accumulated life wisdom. :)

  5. This is absolutely hysterical and utterly horrifying. You handled it so brilliantly! You are, as always, my idol!

    1. YOU are MY idol, Ms. Starred Review!!!!! Thank you for the words of love.


    2. Girlfriend:
      You DARE to call me a bee-yotch, you Nightgown Nancy, you?
      Still, I am impressed you are reading Anna K (we are on an equal plain: I don't read about her, she don't read about me). I am far too involved in the land of fundus and perineum, effaced cervixes and the deliciously dippy sister Monica Joan. If you thought "Call the Midwife" on TV was good ... I recommend the book. Otherwise, I leave you to July and Bo Jo while I try and figure out how to place a photo, having only done it once and being tentative with technology when there are no boys around to bail me out. I still don't see why they needed to leave home? Independence? Maturity? Severely overrated if you ask me.

    3. Oooh, sounds fabby! Sister Monica Joan! Love!!! I will add it to my list. I just started the one you recommended by Joy Castro -- I'm blanking on the title but it has Hell in it. I'm only a chapter in, but it's great so far!

      Good luck with your photo placement, dearest -- I have faith in you.